Lately the Lord has been teaching me how to take and apply Christ as my sin offering through the many struggles and failures of my life. Of course this thought is taken out of the Old Testament, and the sin offering that the Jews offered under the old covenant. The sin offering is a picture of Christ as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.
We are all familiar with the image of the crucified Christ. In the evangelical world we have come to associate the whole work of God on the cross with this one-time event we refer to as “being saved.” It is common in this light to think of salvation as a moment in time when a person confesses their rank as a sinner and looks to the work of Jesus on the cross for their salvation from sin. But salvation is far more than a once-upon-a-time event. It may include that, but it is far more than just that.
Though it is true that the cross was a once-for-all sacrifice, dealing with guilt and sin-consciousness for all time, how little we Christians actually live like we believe that! In moments of victory and ease, sure, but in moments of failure, not so much. This is largely due to the fact that we are still prone to all the weaknesses that accompany being human, and it is hardest to trust the all-sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice-and to know the reality of that work-in those low moments of failure and defeat. Yet it is in these moments that the Holy Spirit undertakes-at least He has been in my life-to teach me to know Christ as my sin offering in actual experience, and so to obtain His victory even when I have fallen in my daily life.
I don’t know about you, but it has always been hard for me to rise up after a fall. Whatever the specific situation is, when I become painfully aware of my sinfulness and go to wallowing in my defeat, it is very difficult for me to still enjoy and pursue the Lord. Even after I have made the situation right, repented, or however you want to put it, it’s like I still have this deeply ingrained anti-trust element that feels it has to atone for its own sin. So I am tempted to spend a few days fasting, or to pray extra long, or to consecrate my life afresh in some outward way, ect. Or it may manifest simply in the way I feel hesitant to approach the Lord or be bold to enjoy His presence until days after my failure when the sting of my sin and guilt from my failure has passed.
But the Lord takes pains to remind me that all this is a display of self-righteousness on my part. More than that, He is teaching me to experience Christ as my sin offering even in my lowest moments, to deny that aspect of self which tries to atone for its own failure. In short, He is teaching me faith… a true and living faith which takes Christ to be its life and its all, not only in moments of glorious triumph but in times of greatest defeat as well.
Brothers and sisters, it is not what we are, it is what He is! Christ is our life on good days and bad. Even when I lose sight of that fact and give way to temptation, or fall into acting out of my flesh in some manner by identifying with the old man who was crucified with Christ, nothing can change that glorious fact! And when I have fallen, and it hurts, nothing remains but for me to get right back up and keep running all the more after Him. This is my only safety: to continue the pursuit, knowing that nothing can separate me from His love. And just because I wasted time yesterday identifying with the old man of sin does not mean I have to waste time today feeling bad about it and wallowing in guilt! To do so is to play into the hands of our enemy. And the Lord would teach us-at least He is teaching me-to no longer play that game. Yes, I may have failed, but what of it? “Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I continue to press toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ!”
By the grace of God, that is where I’m headed today. Anyone care to join me? 🙂